Saturday, November 26, 2011

Court Ordered Texas Congressional Map is still terribly gerrymandered

Fortunately some members of the minority community are not celebrating the so called "victory" in federal court this past week when a new map was created by federal court to replace the originally submitted, and grossly gerrymandered, Texas Congressional map.   The accepted Congressional Map submitted for approval, and then rejected by the courts, was planC185.  It is viewable here on the Texas District Viewer.  The demographic statistics from planC185 are here

If you study the planC185 numbers you will note that there are actually 13 districts wherein minorities are in the majority, contrary to what was printed on most of the news media stories on the originally approved plan. See .  Some of the news reports were specific in stating that in the current congressional districts, that have been in force for a decade, there are 10 out of 32 districts that are majority minority.  Most of the media was not that careful.  They left the impression that the new map passed by the legislature only created 10 such districts. In Planc185 there are 13 minority majority districts out of 36 districts, which is still terrible!

The new map ordered by the judges, Plan220, can be found here.  It only adds one more district wherein minorities are in the majority.  It is an improvement, but still does not achieve voting rights the U.S. should be proud of on the world stage. Just look at these numbers! This district by district report on the numbers produced by Planc220 shows the packing and fragmenting that was was used in the original map, and was continued in the replacement map.  Texas will still be a state wherein 45% of the population can remain as the majority group in 61% of the districts.  That is the power of gerrymandering.

Notice that half of the 14 districts wherein minorities are in the majority are over 80% minority, meanwhile in the 22 Anglo majority districts there are none with more than 77% Anglo population, certainly proof of the packing of minority districts so that fewer minority candidates can be elected.  Such packing is a central technique in gerrymandering.

The 2010 Census of Texas shows that 55% of the population of Texas is made up of people who are classified as minorities, leaving only 45% who are white, non-Hispanic. Meanwhile we have a map, Planc220, that has been "improved" by the federal court from having 13 out of 36 districts that have minorities in the majority, to having 14 out of 36 (or 39%) which have minorities in the majority. Thus a state that is only 45% Anglo, non-Hispanic, has a redistricting plan that provides 22 districts (or almost 61%) wherein the majority population are Anglo, non-Hispanic.  Is that fair?

Anyone who considers it is justified for 55% of the population to only be majority in less than 39% of the districts may not understand the difference between the voting booth and the redistricting table. The redistricting table is where everyone is counted.  A very different counting should happen at the voting booth. That is where citizenship counts. That is where the right to vote counts. We will not have justice in redistricting until this difference between voting and redistricting is reflected in redistricting. 

Gerrymandering must be identified by functional laws that are enforced!  Compact districts encourage voters to vote. Who benefits by discouraging the general public to vote?

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